Liturgy of the Sunday

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Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

First Reading

Genesis 18,1-10

Yahweh appeared to him at the Oak of Mamre while he was sitting by the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up, and there he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them, and bowed to the ground. 'My lord,' he said, 'if I find favour with you, please do not pass your servant by. Let me have a little water brought, and you can wash your feet and have a rest under the tree. Let me fetch a little bread and you can refresh yourselves before going further, now that you have come in your servant's direction.' They replied, 'Do as you say.' Abraham hurried to the tent and said to Sarah, 'Quick, knead three measures of best flour and make loaves.' Then, running to the herd, Abraham took a fine and tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. Then taking curds, milk and the calf which had been prepared, he laid all before them, and they ate while he remained standing near them under the tree. 'Where is your wife Sarah?' they asked him. 'She is in the tent,' he replied. Then his guest said, 'I shall come back to you next year, and then your wife Sarah will have a son.' Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him.


Psalm 14


O Lord show us your sanctuary.

Lord, who shall be admitted to your tent
and dwell on your holy mountain?

He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart;

He who does not slander with his tongue;
he who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbour,

Who holds the godless in disdain,
but honours those who fear the Lord;

He who keeps his pledge, come what may;
who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.

Such a man will
stand firm for ever.

Second Reading

Colossians 1,24-28

It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church, of which I was made a servant with the responsibility towards you that God gave to me, that of completing God's message, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his holy people. It was God's purpose to reveal to them how rich is the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; it is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we are proclaiming, admonishing and instructing everyone in all wisdom, to make everyone perfect in Christ.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 10,38-42

In the course of their journey he came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord's feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha, who was distracted with all the serving, came to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.' But the Lord answered, 'Martha, Martha,' he said, 'you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia


Last Sunday the liturgy made us stop at the side of the half-dead man, along with the good Samaritan. Today's Gospel makes us stop in the house of Martha and Mary, the first who is busy and the second who sits at the feet of the Master. The Evangelist Luke puts the two passages one after the other. A close friend, the Valdensian pastor Valdo Vinay, encouraged to read the two pieces together. He said that the two dimensions of evangelical life are summarized in them: that is, love for the poor and listening to the Word of God. There are not the experts of charity on the one hand and those of prayer on the other. There is no division between a contemplative life and an active life. Every Christian community, every disciple, lives stopping at Jesus' feet to listen to his Word, like Mary and, at the same time, bending over the half-dead man, like the Samaritan. There can be no division between charity and prayer. The Gospel condemns the division between prayer and love for the poor, between the sacrament of the altar and the sacrament of the brother.
And here we are in the house of Bethany where Jesus experienced friendship with that family. It is a precious indication: should not all the houses of the disciples be like this? Especially in our days? In Bethany, the scene of Abraham who in Mamre, in the hottest hour of the day, welcomed the three pilgrims who were crossing the desert, is repeated.
We need that tent of Abraham and that house of Bethany. And we are shown that everything starts from a heart that knows how to listen to the Word of God and to accept Jesus' feelings. Otherwise we risk reacting agitatedly like Martha did. Jesus scolds her but not to diminish the importance of her concrete gesture, which today would be very precious for those fleeing wars and hunger. Jesus wants to emphasize that hospitality requires a friendship made of listening, attention, and closeness. Martha is so busy with things to do - we could say from her agenda - that she forgets the primacy of friendship, the primacy of listening, even with the poor. Martha was escaping the primacy of listening to Jesus.
What happens in the parable of the good Samaritan repeats: the priest and the Levite were so taken by their rituals and rhythms to forget the essentials, namely the compassion of God, mercy, friendship with the half-dead man. So, we could say, even Martha let herself be taken more by the occupations than by Jesus. In fact, she became annoyed with Jesus: 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?" (V. 40). Poor Martha, she had welcomed Jesus and had done well, but then let herself be overwhelmed by herself. But Jesus, calmly and affectionately, corrects her: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing." Only one thing is really necessary, because the whole work of the disciples flows from it, listening to the Master. Jesus tells Martha: "Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." The Gospel seems to indicate to us the two pulpits where we should stop and learn from: the pulpit of the Word of God and the pulpit of the poor; in both the Lord is present. The Samaritan and Mary are before us and show us the way of the Gospel.